Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer
The secretary general entered the command center with her entourage. She walked directly toward me, an imposing figure. Although we had not yet met in person she obviously knew I was the team leader. Dispensing with any formalities she got right to the point.
“So Doctor Grant, I am told that you and your team have deciphered WOW2020?”
“I uh…” clearing my throat I quickly composed myself. “Ahem, yes, the signal detected some three months ago apparently coming from the direction of Hoag’s Object, an odd ring galaxy some 600 million light years distant, has been baffling us up to now…”
She interrupted, “I know where the signal comes from Doctor, you can skip the science lesson. I’m here to find out what it says.”
“Yes, of course,” I apologized. “Um, as I was saying, we were baffled,” I turned and reached out to the mega decoder humming and blinking there in the center of the room, “But not this baby.” I smiled and patted the top of the Cray Translator Array, a ten-meter long bank of super computers working in unison, enough calculating power to state pi to some ten trillion places. “The signal is extremely complex but the decoder has been able to break it down into a comprehensible message.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Comprehensible how?”
“Oh, why plain English of course.”
She exchanged a glance with one of her aids and turned back to me. “Okay Doc, I’m waiting.”
“Yes… as you will soon hear, we have run the translation through a basic voice modulator.”
The eyebrow went up again as she wondered at my unfamiliar technical term.
“Oh,” I clarified, “It will sound like Doctor Stephen Hawking.” And with that I turned to my console and typed in a command.
Suddenly loudspeakers blared throughout the room as everyone stood listening intently.
“I AM THE KNOWLEDGE FACILITATOR. I EXIST TO EDUCATE THOSE WHO DEVELOP THE INTELLIGENCE TO WONDER AND UNDERSTAND. I AM A NATURALLY OCCURING PHENOMENOM, EVOLVING OVER EONS FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF ANSWERING QUESTIONS ABOUT THE PROPERTIES OF THE UNIVERSE. I AM NO LIVING THING YET I AM HERE TO SERVE ALL LIVING THINGS. SINCE YOU HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL IN TRANSLATING MY MESSAGE, WE NOW SPEAK EACH OTHER’S LANGUAGES. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ASK ME ANYTHING YOU DESIRE TO LEARN.”
I turned to her smiling.
She said very bluntly, “That’s it?”
I blinked several times then, “I don’t understand… do you not find it wonderful?”
She stepped closer. “I’m not a complete idiot Doctor.” She poked me in the chest. “How the hell are we supposed to ask it questions when it will take over half a billion years to send a signal back?”
I brightened up. “But that’s the thing you see Madam Secretary, we’ve already asked it our first question!”
“You what?” She looked around at her entourage seemingly furious. “Did anyone else know about this?”
She was greeted only with nervous mumbles, shrugs and averted eyes. Seeing she was getting nowhere she turned back to me and poked me in my chest again, this time much harder. “Well then Doctor, I feel like I’m going to regret this but, exactly what question did you ask it?”
I tugged at my collar. It suddenly felt very warm in the command center. “We uh, we asked it if there was any quicker way to send messages back and forth.”
She stood there motionless for a moment, then shrugged thoughtfully. “Hmm, makes sense I guess.” Then she leaned forward smiling nastily, “Now how about we ask it why I still feel like slapping you?”
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